Tuesday, 30 April 2013
It’s been something which has been on my mind for a while a demand that has really gone completely off the radar. As socialists we talk about creating more work and decently paid jobs and so on but should we not also be looking to demand a shorter working week to say 20 hours or even the old 35 hours which is still very common in France still despite being under threat. All this would of course be for no loss of pay. Solving a jobs crisis and how much leisure time or time spent on politics learning and developing ourselves as a society too. It seems a clear demand we could and possibly should be raising more. The idea that work is the only way to run society and if your not working your somehow at a disadvantage is a interesting point of view. As we know many capitalists do not work and sit and live off the profits of their factories and industries. But a social wage is a concept which interests me a lot in a future socialist society pushing these demands when work is gradually being more and more automised under capitalism and we see our labour power fetching less and less value. While all nation states compete to drive labour power down to a low enough level to increase profits we as workers need to see that work isn’t the only way society can be ordered and that a reordering of society should involve a reduction in the working week. It just seems obvious that the likes of the TUC should be pushing this idea it’s something that could be extremely popular and gain a lot of support. By tackling several issues not least a job’s crisis by the idea of job sharing with the same rate of pay for all for similar tasks performed by the worker. I know I certainly do not want to be working all my life and I don’t imagine many others do too and why should we? At present the age of retirement is estimated to about 70 for me and my generation and it only looks like it will increase as austerity which is the norm now for as far as the eye can see. Capitalists who are in affect on an investment strike to take a Keynesian phrase for a moment will look to drive down any of their costs any way they can right now that includes deflating wages and the like. So a shorter working week will not be popular with the boss’s of course but much like gaining support from the media this is not and should be the deciding factor to whether a demand is correct or not. Allowing for a shorter working week would provide workers with a lot more free time to begin to organise society along socialised lines and starting to put in the building blocks for building a much fairer society that can start to me the needs of the many.
The Green party are on the fringes of politics and for a very good reason allot of what they say is not true and they much like the others cannot be trusted either. This has rung true every time and is no different now in Brighton city council where their administration is forcing through big cuts to jobs and services. Despite riding to power on an anti cuts message they are now going back on every promise they ever made. Sounds familiar right? As the socialist party pointed out at the time if the greens were not prepared to stand up and fight the cuts they would be forced into doing the Tories dirty work. Talking about fighting the cuts and duping workers into thinking your any alternative is shameful when you then come in and look to attack jobs and services with as much vigour as any of the other main political parties. Even Caroline Lucas a reformist in every sense has stepped back from her green council this could create big splits within the greens but we all know they are different greens when things go wrong they say that’s nothing to do with us we’re the other nicer greens not stopping to think they all bear the same name. The Green Party, in the style of other protest movements, has spent a good deal of time attacking the uniformity and failures, both real and imagined, of the political establishment. And, following the typical trajectory further, once they are in power, they have sold out further than the major political groups could be accused of. It is very similar to Animal Farm in that way. In 2009, the then Conservative-run council tried to impose a pay deal on employees which meant a cut of up to £95 per week, with the burden falling particularly heavily on low-paid cleaning staff. Rightly, trade unions disputed the plans and a negotiated settlement was reached. For a while, it seemed that the matter had been put to bed. The last people observers expected to draw up similar plans was the incoming Green administration, which claimed to be on the side of the low paid. Yesterday, the GMB union was warned by a senior council member that its plans for industrial action (after negotiations collapsed) against the slashing of its members pay would be similar to the ‘ Winter of Discontent’ partly attributable to Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power. It would appear that the party, which the member insisted was still the most trade unions friendly, wants council employees to roll over and accept savage pay reductions without any protest. Is this inconsistency as simple as ‘we like trade unions, as long as they don’t bother us’? ‘Yes, you should be able to strike, but if you do it’ll destroy you’? As the GMB said: “from Green to true blue in just two years”. Brighton like other councils needs a fighting socialist alternative. Only TUSC stand against all cuts and would unlike the greens and the labour party come to mention it fight all cuts and mobilise to take on this rotten government who is determined to make workers pay for a crisis not of their making.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Over the last month or so groups have been popping up on the back of Ken Loach’s film the “spirit of 45” getting all nostalgic over the labour government of 1945 and trying to recreate this as if 1945 is 2013. Left unity a new political party/formation whatever you want to call it has been dropped from the sky. Trying to create an alternative to the labour party. Already 80 odd groups have been set up from the top down local organisers have been appointed by who I don’t know as no meetings have taken place yet as such. Democracy seems to be a odd concept when you have no members, no organisational structures yet local and regional organisers are being appointed from up on high. You could say this alternative electoral project is already happening with TUSC standing widely and having been backed by a major trade union already in the RMT and bob crow among others. Will left unity crash and burn like other previous left party projects? In fact, doesn’t TUSC already occupy the territory that Left Unity wish to operate within? My initial cynicism was exacerbated by the announcement of the countless local groups that popped up almost overnight. All of which had ready-made, centrally appointed organiser’s parachuted in – before any local meetings or discussion had taken place. Left Unity has been created following an appeal by the film director, Ken Loach, to build an alternative to the Labour Party. His recent film ‘the Spirit of 45’ apparently – “Gives us a perspective on the achievements of the post-war generation, transforming the lives of ordinary people by bringing improved health, housing, education and social security to the people of Britain”. What Ken Loach, Left Unity, and the many people who report being “brought to tears” after watching his film (phoney emotion if I have ever heard it), fail to mention is the true spirit of 45…… Comparisons of the 1945 economic circumstances to the current ‘deficit’ are disingenuous at best. Whilst Labour and their apologists may ‘wax lyrical’ about the 1945 government, about Clem Atlee, the NHS, the welfare state, the house building programme – and then question why the Conservatives cannot achieve the same in similar economic circumstances – they do not mention how in 1945 the UK had access to several cash cows, ripe for milking. At the time Britain was making the most of its colonial powers taking as much commodities and resources from the iconologies as they possibly could. In the years of that first Atlee government over 60% of all exports from the UK to the US were commodities such as rubber and tin, stolen from the colonies. There is no mention in the film of how the UK was able to hugely augment its GDP in the post-war period, by subjecting the working class of the colonies to horrific oppression, and stealing of their produce. There is no mention in the film, of the Atlee sanctioned concentration camps in Malaya, used to house disruptive trade unionists that had the audacity to complain about the UK stealing all of the rubber they produced, which was then sold at a 1500% mark up in the international market? Is there any mention of how Atlee’s government sanctioned the massacre of striking workers on a plantation in Malaya, so that the flow of money into the UK did not slow down? Another key feature of the true Spirit of 45 that is omitted is how on at least 18 occasions Clem Atlee sanctioned the use of troops to attack workers in order to break their strikes. Such the friend of the working class I see. It is difficult to see what the left unity project can do it seems like a bit of nostalgia for a by gone e era of social democracy capitalism with a human face in affect. This today is simply utopian given the scale of the global economic crisis. There is no nation or industry which could drag capitalism out of the mud on this occasion and sewing illusions in a better form of capitalism does nothing for workers facing austerity right this very moment. A new workers party is needed of course but not sent from high above and with centrally controlled top down non democratic movements. New parties and formations will be thrown up during the class struggle they will be put to the test against the situation and thrown on to the rocks if not the strategy for taking the class forward. I fear that left unity may be another one of these from the early signs.
It’s easy to say what you’re against. We do it all the time but it’s harder to say what you’re for. In terms of the bedroom tax many are against it in principle yet can we trust them? The labour party campaign against this tax yet Ed Miliband can’t decide if he supports it or is against it. To me we can never trust the labour party under any circumstances history tells us this. Labour were in words against the poll tax yet labour councils were some of the most vicious in implementing the tax. It is the same today labour councils will implement the so called bedroom tax and cry crocodile tears after. But things do not have to be this way. Politicians keep inviting us to feel sorry for them as they have to make tough choices - choices of whose jobs, whose terms and conditions, whose services to cut. That's not a tough choice as far as we're concerned. If you represent working class people you don't make cuts. People who do face real tough choices are those who live in the 660,000 households affected by the bedroom tax. They face choices like: "Do I try to pay my increased housing costs or put food on the table? Will I face the threat of eviction for being behind in my rent or will my family go hungry?" A large portion of the victims of the bedroom tax are disabled; 63% of affected households have one or more disabled person. Stephen Palmer of Merthyr is being charged bedroom tax but his 'spare' bedroom isn't empty - it is filled to the brim with his essential kidney dialysis equipment! The bedroom tax is supposed to be about maximising the use of existing social housing, by 'encouraging' people to downsize. If you are poor, receive housing benefit and in social housing, you now have no right to be secure in a home filled with family memories and part of a community, surrounded by friends and neighbours. If the size of your household changes through kids growing up, hospitalisation or even bereavement, you are expected to move or pay a huge penalty. Even if you don't mind moving, in many parts of the country finding smaller accommodation is impossible. According to Welsh local authorities, there are just 400 single-bedroom properties in social housing in the whole of Wales and four (out of 22) council areas have no single-bedroom homes available. And there's no help with the substantial costs of moving anyway. A month into the bedroom tax, thousands of people are finding they can't pay. It is perhaps the single most blatant attack on the poorest in our communities. It has to be fought along with the whole raft of Con-Dem cuts. To charge tenants who are already on low incomes for having a room where people they are close to can stay is just about the meanest trick of a government which has a world-class reputation for mean tricks. The government says: 'take a lodger'- but why should people share their homes with someone they hardly know, when they want to share their homes with those they are close to? The government says: 'get a few extra hours work'. What planet are they on? Don't they realise that everyone is having their hours cut! The government says: 'move to a smaller property or a cheaper area'. Where are all these one-bedroom properties? They don't exist. And why uproot yourself to a new area, away from schools, contacts, and support networks? The bedroom tax is an outrage, and that's why people are getting angry. Half the people signing petitions against the tax aren't even hit by it, but they know people who are affected - family, friends, and neighbours - and they think it stinks. Protests are taking off - not just demonstrations but targeted protests at Labour councils who, for all their 'campaigning' against the tax, will implement it to the hilt, and against housing associations who are busy taking on more 'enforcement officers' to 'deal with' the tenants who fall behind on rent. That's why we need to build street networks and 'telephone trees' to quickly respond to threats by bailiffs. No evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of austerity cuts. Organise local campaigns to oppose the tax and defend our homes, and link them to existing anti-cuts groups Stand candidates against councillors who try to evict us. Build a new mass workers' party that draws together workers, young people and activists from workplaces and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-cuts parties Cap rents and build homes. Invest in a major programme of council house building and refurbishment to provide affordable homes for all and decent jobs End low pay! If workers are paid a genuinely living wage they would not need to claim housing benefit Fight all the cuts. Trade unions must build for a 24-hour general strike as the next major step in the campaign against austerity For a socialist alternative to cuts and capitalism with a democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people - not the 1%.
This Thursday people do have a choice and someone to vote for now. The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition of which I’m standing for in Hertfordshire county council elections for Ware north providing a anti austerity message. We are standing in over 120 seats covering 5%. This may seem a small number but it’s a big step forward when you look at how many anti cuts candidates stood when these elections were last contested back when labour were still in power. It’s important to pose an alternative and provide an alternative for people to vote for. As Marxists we do not consider elections the be all and end all they are a platform we can use to reach workers we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. We do not take an absolute view on elections and do see them as the lowest form of class struggle but this doesn’t stop us using any platform we can get. We are clearly limited with media coverage and ability to get to people with our production of leaflets being limited by our resources. Despite all this I feel we’ve run good campaigns reaching new contacts and providing an alternative where previously there was none. We’ve come across many thinking UKIP are the answer we have won a few around from this position who were going to vote UKIP but will now not after knowing what they are all about. People may vote for UKIP or labour even as a protest votes to punish the Tories and lib dems. This doesn’t mean to say people have any great enthusiasm for labour or UKIP they are just the nearest lot to bash the Tories with. TUSC will not get a big vote or win much if at all but it’s important we do not leave the door open to the right in the form of UKIP who could become a danger in the future as capitalism fails to find a way out of its own contridictions parties like UKIP are far more dangerous than the BNP as they are seen as more credible and will whip up racial tensions and create divisions in society increasing social tensions. But do back TUSC this Thursday but more importantly join the fight for a new workers party. If you’re in a union put pressure on it to back TUSC and stop funding a Tory light labour party. There is an alternative. The money and the funds are out there if brought under democratic workers control. We may be small and our votes may be modest at this stage but give us a listen and see what we can achieve together as the most powerful force out there the labour movement fighting back. For more information on TUSC visit www.tusc.org.uk
Sunday, 28 April 2013
Every year workers around the world celebrate their fallen comrades injured or killed at work. This is a opportunity to reflect and remember the dead but most importantly to continue to fight for the living. The real scandal is the 20,000 people who die each year in the UK due to injury or diseases linked to their work. The government of millionaires is attacking our health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety Executive's budget has been cut by 35%. There has been a 50% cut in the number of workplace inspections and the number of prosecutions have fallen by the same amount. The bosses are demanding many more safety regulations be swept away. Workers' Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year. The TUC says: "the day serves as a rallying cry to remember the dead, but fight like hell for the For centuries working people have demanded justice for those slain in the workplaces by the bosses whose sole motivation is profit. If we don't fight to maintain the gains of the past then the bosses and their government will surely take them away. Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers. Workers' Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day. The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living”. The TUC coordinates activities across the country, publishing a comprehensive listing of events and suggestions. A listing of the global activities is available from the Hazards website. Every year, two million men and women die worldwide as a result of work-related injuries and diseases. Workers' Memorial Day held annually on 28 April, is a day when all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a host of other activities to remember this toll. The TUC says in the UK over 20,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of injuries or accidents caused by their work. This year it has called on unions and safety campaigners to make 28 April a day of action to defend health and safety from attacks by the press, politicians and employers. The union body is concerned that the UK's workplace safety record could be about to get worse as a direct result of government policies. Not only do funding cuts - both to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to local authorities - mean there will be fewer official safety inspections, the government has also said that workplaces like shops, offices, schools, docks and farms no longer need to be routinely visited. TUC adds that 'health and safety bashers' should be reminded what safety law is really all about - not pointless regulation but necessary protection to stop employers taking risks with workplace safety and which prevents people from being killed, injured or made ill as a result of their work.
Tonight I was politically undressed as it were with a right win landlord and a group of lads who were clearly right wing and opposing any sort of left wing idea going. This is my local pub and I felt quite intimidated to be honest feeling that I was in the minority. I took it all on the chin and brushed off any criticism which I felt was the best way to handle it. I clearly am in the minority in society and accept this fact. As I’ve said before this doesn’t as a rule make me straight away wrong and not worth hearing out. As I said before and will repeat time after time Karl Marx and Frederish Engel’s were always in the minority their entire lives and still till this very day correct on many issues so I have no shame in stating my point. I do not go into a new atmosphere looking to preach or push my own views but will defend my views when attacked. Some may say well best to leave it and let things go its not worth it but why just let things go and let the left face another defeat among many others. This all came about since Margaret Thatcher’s death where the local landlord who is clearly Tory and supports the idea of the individual spoke up about herand said what a great woman she was. Clearly I did not agree and looked to put the opposite point of view about the miners and the communities she devastated as any good leftie would. Maybe I should have shut up and said nothing and let things go but I have created a mole hill for myself perhaps by stating openly I’m a socialist and disagreed with Thatcher. I am told constantly I was not alive so how can I have any view on the matter. I reply well were you alive during the world war? So ho can you have an opinion on the war. To which it seems to escalate into all sorts of comments. Perhaps I’m speaking out of turn and I should keep my mouth shut. But I was then told I may not be welcome back in the pub. Is it the case you can be refused a drink if you disagree politically with a landlord. I’ve not come across this before I know there are discrimination laws and what not but simply disagreeing politically can you be refused entry and a drink to a pub? I will have to do more research but does seem harsh though. I always answer well you’re a leftie and all that with well I simply believe in fairness and can’t stand unfairness. Is that such a crime? As a socialist this is my basic principle that we are all equal but some more than others. We live under a capitalist system which’s deeply unfair which people find themselves marginalised by the smallest thing. In pubs and the like I hear lots of racist and homophobic comments and talk. This does offend me as I oppose any form of racism and homophobia not because I am black/ Asian or that I’m gay and even if I was it wouldn’t change anything I simply oppose discrimination. I am blind and as a result I’m disabled and face discrimination on a daily basis I could recount many incidents I’ve been through some that would shock even my nearest family fact is it goes on and will forever we live under a system of exploitation and greed. But I am a decent person I do genuinely feel I like to help people out that are my basic goal now as a socialist. I find happiness in helping others and others less fortunate than myself. Anyway I can help anyone I will. On the way back tonight from the pub I’d had a few drinks but someone was helping a friend home who’d had a few drinks themselves and was clearly struggling. I offered to help, knowing I am blind and cannot offer too much help I still went out of my way to offer support if I could. This is not to raise myself up as some sort of martyr or anything but was offered out of genuine concern and offering of help I didn’t hope to gain anything from this or anything just to see if I could help So many people have lost that basic level of human solidarity now any offer of help from someone they don’t know is alien to them and they do not know how to react. I believe many people are not alienated from society and society has as a result alienated them. Its time to reclaim good will and human solidarity. As workers we all face the same attacks. Whether your black, white, gay, straight, disabled or not you are all my fellow human beings who I stand by I do believe there are mostly good people out there and that there is good in most people but its what we do as a class which matters. Workers have the power to change society and running down of left/ socialist ideas is quite deliberate. I’ve been called all sorts, leftie, Trotskyist, commy, scrounger you name it I’ve been called it. Names are a name for a reason I personally do not worry about a name or a label it’s we do and interact with others which matters. Convincing others is no easy task that a socialist society would be better than what we have but it is certainly I’m not going to be bullied out of or intimidated out of. We all have different political views I accept that and respect others I would never revert to physical force or under hand tactics. You win a political debate on politics alone not the personal getting personal and resulting in insults means you’ve lost I’m afraid I’m not about to loose my nerve now.
Friday, 26 April 2013
This week the NSSN lobbied the TUC general council and again made the appeal for a 24 hour general strike which would be the start of rolling action not simply that and nothing else which is what some ultra left’s think we are calling for. It would only be a start. But given that at the most the TUC would call a one day of controlled militancy with a very top down approach are our attempts to lobby this bureaucratic body really having an affect? No doubt more know about the ideas of a 24 hour general strike now it is still largely misunderstood I think and many rank-and-file union members are still unaware of the in’sand out’s of what it would actually mean. I still don’t feel we have explained what it would mean very well despite a number of comrades best efforts. We are simply to small to gain that amount of influence within work places. We do some excellent work but I do think we are missing a trick by only appealing to union tops and most of which are right wing union leaders very few are left union leaders those that are do a good job but are still wedded to the bureaucracy despite their best rhetoric. The simple truth is that the TUC is there deliberately as a block on workers taking action I can see this very clearly so I can fully understand comrades frustration when lobbying some very well to do union leaders. In my view it should be the rank-and-file we should be looking to win over to build and support action from below to go beyond the structures of the TUC if need be. Only by forcing action will union leaders take note if you’re simply appealing for them to lift their tiny finger a slight bit it may happen but asking them to take subsequent follow up action would be even harder. Their answer will be we’ve gone out on strike once and we did not win so we can’t win. Much like on November the 30th many union tops will say we went on strike and the government didn’t back down. Well no they didn’t as many of you sold out and thought it was more about damage limitation than actually trying to win. The old saying if you don’t fight you can’t win but if you do fight at least you got a chance to win is very apt today. I don’t think we should have one strategy of simply lobbying the TUC every few months its clear its not having much affect at all despite my part the socialist party thinking it is I see very little evidence for this. I do think we have the tendency to talk up a situation being better than it is sometimes I think its sub continues that we’d like to think we’re far stronger than we actually are. This is not very Marxist as we are always told to tell things how they are and if we are not very strong we should recognise that fact. Then if you recognise where you are you can then start to build from there not from where you’d like to be. Union density especially in the private sector is terrible and calling for a general strike when most of the population are not in a union may draw more towards you but could also alienate many too if we’re not careful. The way this is posed is very important. Considering only 6 million out of a working population of millions more could create more divisions than unity if it is not carefully explained and won over the best layer of workers who can bring their colleagues along with the on any action. I don’t think lobbying the TUC is a total dead end it can be a good propaganda tool to bring militant workers towards us but many will soon come to see the difficulties I feel as I have done now. I will always support our actions but have now realised their limitations and difficulties. The fact is the TUC is not a vehicle for struggle like it once may well have been the TUC takes in militant workers and tries to pay them off into comfortable positions of bureaucracy where they are watered down and restrained from action. It takes a strong vanguard with an organised cadre of militants to gain any affect. At present our rank-and-file movements are far too weak to call any action on our own at this stage. Deepening our links and our influence in unions should be our priority winning positions but also gaining influence among the rank-and file should be key to rebuilding the trade union movement. I meet many young people especially who do not even know what a trade union actually is and often believe the views of the capitalist media that all unions do is go on strike and disrupt things. Well that is just one side of them and knowing the actual background is just not there for many. It’s our job to re educate the class to popularise the ideas of struggle once again. Explain what unions can do for you and how you can fight within them for change. Unlike the labour party unions can be reclaimed for their members as the all be it limited democratic structures in some unions do still exist today. This will not be a short term fix and there will be moves forward and backwards in the struggle but winning back our unions is key. Working outside the TUC structures must not be ruled out either the working class when blocked off on one route can take any number of other routes to fightback we should not dismiss this if it happens but look to be there when they do move and look to arm workers with ideas of socialism and what is needed at each stage. Workers will come to their own conclusions no doubt so a calm patient tone is always necessary. But certainly I can fully understand many workers dis-trust and even anger at the TUC and its representatives it’s been a long time since they have represented workers. For us to appeal to that can feel very disheartening but it’s a means to an end not an end in itself which is why I haven’t completed written it off. We will have to see if from under pressure any action is called the pressure is building from below no doubt and union leaders may have to act to let the steam off from below. But this can be done in many ways. One thing is for certain workers are waking up slowly and will look for their traditional structures at first if they are not there or not working for them several options will present themselves. We must support them all the way if we are to win influence and ultimately change society towards a socialist society.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Yes that’s right I am. Many people think as I’m disabled and registered blind I shouldn’t have a voice I shouldn’t hold strong opinions. Even your own family sometimes think well they don’t have it so bad what they got to protest and shout out about. Well there is this little thing called compassion and solidarity for your common neighbour which is hugely lacking from society today. The times when we would look out for our fellow man and woman in the street to see if they were ok let them know if they’d left window open or take in their post and milk if not in. Just common decency has vanished out of society along with the addition of neo liberalism trumpeted by Margaret Thatcher and every PM ever since her. So I’m disabled am I not allowed a voice? Should I be grateful for what I got and should think I could have it a lot worse? I don’t agree I think it’s rare but a good thing a young disabled person like me has developed political ideas. They may not all be to peoples liking I accept that. As a socialist with Marxist views I know I’m in the minority and probably will be for some time. But Marx and Engel’s were always in the minority but that didn’t stop them being right on many issues. I accept many will not agree with me and I do not try and ram my views down people’s throats but I’m always happy and willing to discuss in a comradely fashion with anyone. I debate passionately and believe strongly in my views this is not to say I think I’m always right this is a common misconception with socialists we are perceived to have all the answers. We have a guide to action but do not have all the answers no one does. But being disabled doesn’t mean you’re any less likely to hold strong views and I think more should be encouraged to take up political ideas. I never saw myself as political at one point but was politicised by the rampant cuts agenda being pushed through by this government which is hitting the poorest the hardest. Everyone’s awakened at different moments and some never will be and prefer to keep their head down n and hope things improve. I just simply prefer to try and do something about it. Speed up the process of people coming to the understanding of society needing to be changed to meet the needs of everyone not just the few. Being disabled and political are not mutually exclusive categories and you can be both much like you can be a woman, a black person gay and whatever and hold views. As I’m disabled I’m told I shouldn’t speak out so much and that I should leave this to the politicians. Well I don’t know about you but I don’t know many disabled working class MP’s and none of the others are prepared to speak up for us and lead a change in society. Do not let anyone tell you to be quiet or stop speaking out the more that do and begin to think for themselves the better in my view plus the more who draw socialist conclusions are even better in my view. Workers and disabled people unite you have nothing to loose but your ability to think.
Socialist policies needed to resolve crisis in the interests of majority By Niall Mulholland, CWI Niall Mulholland, who recently visited Cyprus, looks at the disastrous consequences of the Anastasiades government’s bailout deal with the Troika, and the alternatives put forward by the Left. The weather in Cyprus at this time of year is warm, with a refreshing breeze blowing over the island. The same pleasant balance cannot be said about the economy, which is in meltdown. Cypriot society is in a state of shock after weeks of economic and political turmoil. Cypriot banks faced collapse after a steep fall in the value of Greek government bonds, many of which were bought by the Cypriot banks. This was linked to the savage bail-out package imposed on Greece by the Troika. In March, the Cypriot government, led by President Nicos Anastasiades, agreed to a 10 billion euro bail-out package with the Troika (the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), after the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki became insolvent. In return, Cyprus was told it must raise 5.8bn euros. The agreement saw bank depositors with more than 100,000 euros face big levies, hitting many small businesses. The country’s second largest bank, Laiki Bank, was closed down and its 9 billion worth of debts taken on by the Bank of Cyprus. After a two-week closure, banks reopened on 28 March but with strict controls on the amount people can withdraw each day. But as if this was not bad enough, the already stunned and angry Greek Cypriots were later told that the bailout had ballooned from 17 billion euro to 23 billion. Cyprus has to find 6 billion more than the 7 billion mooted when the preliminary agreement was reached on 25 March. President Anastasiades’ right wing government had already decided to impose swingeing austerity measures, bank closures, property taxes, privatisations of the three most profitable semi-state sector companies (electricity, telecommunications, and ports) and many sector job losses. They are even considering selling part of the gold supplies of the Central Bank, worth 400 million euro. “Returning Cyprus to the Stone Age” Adding to the country’s woes, is the long running crisis at Cyprus Airlines which is near bankrupt. The government is threatening to close it entirely or to make a deal with unions that would see a halving of the 1,030 workforce and the number of planes cut from 11 to 6. Cyprus Airline’s bleak future, along with the country’s economic turmoil, has ‘numbed’ summer tourist bookings, which is a crucial part of the economy. Political scandal surrounds the government. Anastasiades has been forced to strenuously deny that he knew a legislative bill was being prepared for the deeply unpopular ‘haircut’ of all bank depositors prior to the European Group meeting in March. Popular anger is aroused by reports that insider information enabled the rich to take out millions of euro from bank deposits before 15 March. Officially the Cypriot economy is due to fall by 8.7% this year and by 3.9% in 2014. But many economists believe there will be a 10% fall in 2013, and a plummet of anything between 15-25% by the end of next year. “Returning Cyprus to the Stone Age”, is how one commentator dramatically described the next months. Certainly people are finding their standard of living increasingly precarious. The government was recently forced to provide an emergency 3 million euro to small famers, whose livestock were starving due to the sudden bank credit restrictions. More people are switching from cars to (poor) public transport to save money. On weekends, instead of heading for the cooler mountains, families are now opting for the cheaper alternative of strolling along Nicosia’s ‘old town’, where they linger for hours over a single coffee or soft drink. Even sporting events are hit hard by the economic crisis. One of the main football clubs, Omonia, is in financial crisis and facing a sudden withdrawal of sponsorship. The government tries to dampen popular opposition to austerity by claiming the measures will not be as harsh as previously planned because some privatisations will be pushed back to 2018, there will less cuts in education and the repayment of the bail-out loans will start after 10 years and will take 12 more years (in total, Cyprus will, in effect, be under the control of Troika for the next 22 years). But this is cold comfort to the working class and middle classes who face years of austerity, job losses or emigration. Unemployment is already sitting at 14%. ‘Social markets’ (modern soup kitchens) are springing up everywhere. Working people also expect that, like Greece, the Troika will be in Nicosia every few months, demanding a new wave of cuts in return for bailout conditions. ‘Worst since 1974’ The newspapers are full of despair. It is generally felt that the crisis is the worst since the 1974 Turkish army invasion. There is understandable widespread outrage amongst Greek Cypriots at the bailout conditions and a perception that, once again, small Cyprus is, de facto, under neo-colonial rule; this time from the Berlin government, in the interests of German capital and for electoral gain. But sometimes this outrage in Cyprus takes a potentially divisive, nationalist direction. Marios Leonida Evriviades, a professor of international relations at Panteion University in Athens, wrote about the “econcide” (destruction of an economy) and “Cratocide” (destruction of a state) imposed by Chancellor Merkel’s government in Berlin, and compared it to the Nazis’s annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938. He went on to talk of “Nazi-sympathizing Turkey” confiscating private property in 1942. The trade unions and Left needs to ensure they lead mass struggles against austerity or there is a danger that nationalist forces and even the far right will gain the initiative. This needs to include deepening relations with working people in North Cyprus, who have suffered their own austerity cuts for years, as well developing common struggle with the working people in other countries of southern Europe that are hit by the Troika’s austerity policies. Otherwise the two right wing administrations may try to whip up nationalism on either side of the Green Line, diverting the class interests of the whole island’s working people. So far, apart from organising some protests during the March crisis, the unions have given no real lead to working people. The right wing unions are in talks with the government about ‘managing’ the crisis. The Left unions, linked to AKEL (Greek Cypriot communist party), rhetorically oppose cuts but do not call for any firm action. Members of New Internationalist Left (CWI Cyprus) participate in a broad campaign against austerity initiated mainly by forces affiliated to AKEL, the ‘Movement Against Privatisation and Austerity’, but criticise its lack of a fighting programme to effectively oppose austerity and for a real alternative. One leading figure in the campaign claims that there is “no need for a programme – we are a movement”. But the economic crisis is deep and will only get worse. A radical alternative must therefore be posed. If the unions and Left fails to resist effectively, other populist, nationalist ‘anti-austerity’ campaigns can make headway. Ominously, Cypriot fascists, who are trying to emulate their cousins in Golden Dawn, in Greece, are now handing out anti-austerity leaflets in parts of Nicosia where they previously did not venture. These people can be a grave threat to immigrants and the Left. They must be resolutely opposed by a united workers’ movement that campaigns against the poison of racism and ultra-nationalism and for jobs, with a living wage, for all. Referendum call AKEL has called for a referendum, to allow the people to accept or reject the bailout deal. This was also taken up by the small Green party and an independent candidate in presidential elections held at the start of 2013. While the demand for a referendum gained an echo amongst some workers and youth who were furious at Troika-imposed austerity, it appears to have declined in recent weeks. AKEL and the former presidential candidate, Lilikas, both now put their hopes in the parliament rejecting the memorandum. However there are groups still collecting signatures in an attempt to force a referendum. There is little possibility that the present government will opt for political suicide by calling a referendum on the bail-out deal. In truth, AKEL’s campaign for a referendum is largely token and used by the party leadership to avoid other issues. In government until recently, AKEL cultivated a friendly relationship towards big business, the banks and the Russian oligarchs who spirited billions into Cypriot banks, preparing the ground for economic bust. In recent weeks, heightened government propaganda warning that there is no ‘Plan B’ and that leaving the euro and returning to the Cypriot pound currency would see the country “go back centuries”, is used to try to counter the popular call for a euro-exit. Nevertheless the issue remains live and can gather more force once austerity starts to bite deeply AKEL will unveil next week its proposals on how to leave the euro. Economists regularly appear on TV discussing a euro-exit. The influential Greek Cypriot Archbishop also raised the prospect of Cyprus leaving the euro-zone. This is in marked contrast to other euro-crisis countries, like Greece and Ireland, where although there is huge opposition to austerity most workers are fearful of leaping into the ‘unknown’ of euro-exit. Cyprus, however, only joined the euro-zone in 2008, at the start of the currency’s crisis. Cypriots therefore associate euro membership with seemingly endless financial turmoil, extreme austerity and looming slump. Euro-exit? But the New Internationalist Left warns that, on the basis of the continuation of the capitalist system, breaking from the euro and a return to the Cyprus pound will not mean refuge from austerity and stagnation. Certainly exiting would allow devaluation of the Cyprus currency but the boost to exports would be limited, given Cyprus’s lack of materials to sell abroad (the much-vaunted discovery of oil and gas supplies off Cyprus’s shores are years away from possible exploitation and the industry will be dominated by multi-national companies in the interests of their major shareholders). Currency devaluation would also result in a rise in import costs and therefore a hike in the cost of living. This ‘imported inflation’, along with likely government attempts to deal with paying off national debts by printing money, would cut into people’s savings. Apart from the New Internationalist Left, none of the rest of the Left puts forward a clear, class-based analysis to the crisis or a socialist programme for change. Inevitably various ideas are temporarily fashionable at this early stage of the economic crisis and impending class confrontations. Some look to a ‘co-operatives’ based economy as an alternative, for example. Unlike Greece, which, in effect, has suffered 28 years of austerity, many Cypriots are unprepared for the very hard landing ahead after years of economic boom. But looming class battles will radicalise more and more Cypriots in the next months and years. In anticipation of coming struggles, the New Internationalist Left puts forward a socialist alternative. This includes repudiating the debt, nationalisation of the banks under democratic public control and management, opposing privatisations, breaking with the bosses’ euro, and for the public ownership of the key industries and major utilities, to enable the economy to be democratically planned to serve the needs of the majority, not the profits of bankers and the speculator minority. All this immediately raises the prospect of Cyprus being forced out of the eurozone and even the EU. A workers’ government needs to plan to deal with exit from the euro and for a return to a national currency (the pound) while countering any illusions that this could provide a solution on the basis of capitalism. Adopting a new currency must be incorporated as part of a socialist programme. The struggle for the socialist transformation of society is just as relevant for Greece, Portugal, Spain and other euro-crisis countries, and beyond. A socialist federation of European states, founded on an equal and voluntary basis, is the only way to fully realise genuine co-operation amongst the working people of Europe and the utilising of the rich resources of the economy for the benefit of the great majority. This is particularly the case for small Cyprus. A new powerful Left needs to be built in Cyprus, with the aim of forming a government based on the needs of working people. The situation facing Cypriot society is desperate and set to get much worse. Only a bold, socialist, internationalist programme can resolve the crisis in the interests of the majority.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
A socialist alternative piece: This past week in Boston has been almost surreal—a horrific attack occurred on Marathon Monday that shouldn’t be seen in this city or anywhere in the world. Countless acts of solidarity occurred starting with people running towards the explosion to help the hundreds caught in the path of devastation. Marathon runners endured another two miles to give blood, and countless Bostonians opened their homes to the stranded. Solidarity messages were sent to Boston from the people of Kabul to Baghdad to Yankee Stadium [base ball stadium in New York]. Meanwhile, the health care companies are charging massive amounts for necessary surgeries while victims are forced to beg for donations from other working people while the billionaires profit from this tragedy. One of the three deaths from the bombs was an 8-year old child, Martin Richard, from the working-class neighborhood of Dorchester. The photo of Martin with his homemade poster calling for peace after the racist murder of Trayvon Martin has been beamed around the world and become one of the defining images associated with this tragedy. Unfortunately, Martin Richard’s death was followed by immediate racist acts. On Monday, a student from Saudi Arabia was tackled for “acting suspicious” by running away from the explosions and “smelling like explosives” immediately in the vicinity of the Marathon finish line. Much of the first day of the investigation was wasted focusing on this false lead fueled by racist profiling. The news media, particularly CNN, whipped up Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment throughout, publishing the Saudi man’s information and also continuously giving false reports of suspects and arrests. One such report said that a suspect on the run was a “dark-skinned man”. That same day, Boston Police were seen stopping and searching young African-American and Latino men in an atmosphere of a militarized society. War, Violence, and Terror Socialists completely condemn this terrorist outrage. Whatever the motives of the perpetrators, such acts are utterly reactionary. The primary victims were ordinary working people. Terrorist methods like the Boston bombing create fertile conditions for right-wing forces to whip up racist and nationalistic moods in society, which only serve to weaken the working class and further the interests of big business. The media is speculating that the perpetrators of this attack were possibly motivated by right-wing Islamic terrorist ideology, specifically the grievances of the predominantly Muslim Chechen people against the brutal Russian oppression of their country. If such claims are true, the attacks carried out in Boston will not succeed in undermining U.S. imperialism or the imperialist powers’ oppression of the people of Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and the Arab world. In fact, its real effect is to undermine the struggle of the Chechen people and all oppressed peoples, strengthen the power of the U.S. state, and give the ruling class in the U.S. and internationally an opportunity to clamp down on democratic rights. While completely opposing terrorism and right-wing political Islam, the working class and socialists cannot support the racist police-state methods of U.S. capitalism or its imperialist policies abroad in the name of “fighting terrorism.” The ruling elite cynically aims to exploit ordinary people’s anger at terrorism. Instead of racist scapegoating, we need unity of all working, young, and oppressed peoples to address the root of these problems. The same week as the Marathon tragedy, fourteen people were killed in West, Texas at a fertilizer plant and hundreds injured. This plant has been the site of ongoing safety violations. Meanwhile, twenty-two US veterans commit suicide every day. Working people need to unite against corporate domination to ensure workplace safety, adequate treatment for mental illness, and free quality health care. This struggle can unite us across ethnic, racial and religious lines. The approach of working-class unity can become a counter-weight to religious and ethnic violence not only in the US but also internationally. Marathon Heroes Carlos Arredondo is now known from pictures and countless media stories as “the man in the cowboy hat." He ran towards the explosion to rush people to ambulances and to medical professionals. His actions undoubtedly saved lives on Marathon Monday. One man that Carlos saved was the first to give a description of “Suspect #1” that was killed in a shootout with police on Thursday. Carlos is an immigrant and an activist that lost his son, Scott, who was a soldier in Iraq. At the height of the anti-war movement, Carlos was a fixture at Boston protests. Carlos and his partner, Melida, could also be found at Occupy Boston events. Other unsung heroes include the workers in the Massachusetts’ Nurses Association (MNA), a union that struggles to keep safe staffing ratios to provide quality care for patients when the big hospital chains try to “cut costs.” MNA nurses cared for the victims of this attack and will continue with a campaign for safe staffing. Seamus Whelan, MNA activist and Socialist Alternative candidate for Boston City Council said, “After this horrible attack of terror and tragedy, we see the need for guaranteed, quality health care. Nurses, in order to care better for our patients, will be at the forefront of Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.” Immigration Debate The corporate politicians in the halls of power were planning a debate on immigration this year. This tragedy is being used by the right-wing media to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment. This could stall the debate or push it to the right. The youth who are alleged to have committed this horrific act were immigrants who had lived in the U.S. legally for ten of their formative years. Immigrants or Muslims as a whole shouldn’t be scapegoated for this. Already, a Muslim woman has been attacked in Malden, a working-class city where she lives just outside of Boston. Contrary to the media propaganda, the truth is that most mass killings in the US are actually carried out by non-Muslim white men. Any attacks on the civil rights of immigrant workers would affect all of us by strengthening the hand of reaction against all working people and youth. Anti-democratic, “anti-terrorist” legislation that claims to be targeting “terrorists” or immigrants will later be used against activists fighting corporate power, as has been seen in recent years with the FBI and police using their expanded post-9/11 powers to repress Occupy, anti-war, and union activists. Socialist Alternative stands for full and immediate citizenship rights for all undocumented workers. This is a far cry from Obama’s guest worker “immigration reform” which is designed as a gift to corporations that want a cheap labor source constantly threatened with deportation, and creates a very long, expensive and humiliating process for the undocumented to gain citizenship while denying legal status to a minority of those currently undocumented. If immigrant workers are given citizenship rights, then it would strengthen their confidence to fight for higher wages and better benefits. This would strengthen all workers at the bargaining table and in struggles against budget cuts. Immigrants have helped build unions in the U.S. before, and they can do so again. Lockdown and Relief On Friday, nearly one million residents of Greater Boston were ordered to stay in their homes and not leave. We were told this would help the search to find the remaining 19-year-old suspect on the run. Streets were abandoned, turning Boston into a scene that looked like a post-apocalyptic movie. The suspect was caught shortly after this order was lifted because a man in Watertown, a suburb that was the site of the shootout, went outside and immediately found the suspect in his boat. There was a massive outpouring of joy and relief that this was all coming to an end. The effects will still last though. The ruling class will have a window of opportunity to push through new “anti-terrorist” legislation that will increase the repressive powers of the state, along with efforts by the right-wing to whip up racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant moods. However, attitudes are not the same as after 9/11 when there was widespread support for war and limits on civil liberties. When Socialist Alternative in Boston put up a table Saturday, just one day after the “stay in your homes” order, we weren’t confronted with hostility. Our signs read “Defend Civil Liberties” and “No Attacks on Immigrants." Most people are worn out by this rollercoaster and are looking for answers. At root, it is a capitalist system that creates the alienation, war, poverty and feeling of powerlessness that leads to such heinous acts. It is also the power of the solidarity of working people that can overcome this calamity and the system that breeds it.
Monday, 22 April 2013
Big elections are coming up for Unison. One of the most frustrating unions to organise within but as Marxist’s we do not shy away from working within reactionary unions and Unison is one of the worst. But we don’t just sit there and moan about how bad it is we are actively fighting within the union within its limited democratic structures to change the union. Unison holds the key to many workers and to ultimately saving the NHS. Unisons role in this so far has been pathetic we know this. But by shouting from the sidelines gets us nowhere. The unison 4 who were 4 socialist party members witch hunted for organising within Unison and due to their politics and opposing Unison’s links to the labour party and wishing to change this found themselves victimised and hounded. But things do not have to be this way we can change this union to win it back for its members to become a fighting union along with other left unions like the PCS, RMT, FBU and so on. Elections for Unison's national executive (NEC) start on 22 April and run until 24 May. Members of the Socialist Party are standing, alongside candidates organised in United Left, as part of the Reclaim the Union election slate, in the seats listed. The Con-Dem government is determined to destroy the NHS and the welfare state. This must be resisted by the full strength of Unison, other unions and local communities. We need an NEC leadership that is determined to win. The NEC has a responsibility to organise and plan a coordinated fightback instead of leaving branches to fight alone. The employers are saying take cuts in pay and conditions or face more job losses or we will pull out of the national pay agreements. However, the union is wrong to believe that the way to protect our national agreements is to give away some of our rights, as they have recently done in the health service. ________________________________________ The Socialist Party believes that:- • Unison should organise a national demonstration to save our NHS with the support of other unions. • Unison should stop funding Labour if it refuses to fight the cuts and to stop the destruction of our NHS. ________________________________________ The Reclaim the Union candidates are: (Socialist Party members are asterisked). • National black members seats: Female: Monique Hirst*, April Ashley*; male: Hugo Pierre* • National young members seat: Greta Holmes • Eastern region: Female: Claire Wormald • East Midlands region: Female: Jean Thorpe*; male: Adrian Picton* • Greater London region: Female: Helen Davies, Marshajane Thompson; male: Jon Rogers; reserved seat: Gundula Seidel • North West region: General seat: Tony Wilson; female: Bernadette Gallagher, Karen Reissmann; male: Roger Bannister* • Scotland region: General seat: Jim McFarlane*; male: Duncan Smith, • South East region: Female: Jacqui Berry*, Diana Leach; male: Paul Couchman* • South West region: Male: Bernie Parkes • Cymru/Wales region: Male: Jamie Davis* • West Midlands region: Male: Dave Auger* • Yorkshire and Humberside region: Female: Helen Jenner; male: Mike Forster*; reserved: Vicky Perrin* • Health Care service group: Female: Helen Ridett*, Suzy Franklin; male: Mark Boothroyd; general: Gary Freeman* • Higher Education service group: Female: Tomasa Bullen; general: Max Watson • Local Government service group: Female: Phoebe Watkins, Sonya Howard; male: Glenn Kelly*; general: Paul Holmes • Transport service group, water and environment: John Jones • Community: Female: Janet Bryan
This has been a question I’ve toyed with for a while now. We’ve seen several high profile incidents only in the last few weeks with Millwall at Wembley in their semi final FA cup fixture against Wigan and the day after Newcastle fans causing havoc in Newcastle city centre. I must stress these are often minorities and the vast majority of football fans are peace loving and will never cause any trouble at all. But does this signal a wider problem these few incidents? Clearly football is not immune to the outside pressures of society and during an economic downturn social tensions do rise to the surface as we have seen with the riots in 2011 and big strikes a few years back. There are certainly huge tension levels out there. A ghost walked over football's grave last weekend. As the nation prepared to bury the 80s with the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, stark reminders of the game's most wretched decade glared out from television screens and news pages. During Saturday's FA Cup semi-final Millwall fans fought among themselves at Wembley. After Newcastle United had lost 3-0 at home to Sunderland on Sunday some of their supporters tried to confront visiting fans at the railway station and pelted police with missiles, injuring three officers. By the violent standards of the 70s and 80s these incidents were relatively minor. Thirty or 40 years ago they would barely have merited a paragraph or two of news coverage. In football the stage had been reached at which stuff like this was a weekly routine. Thatcher was one of football’s worst enemies she despised football fans and classed all fans as hooligans which were grossly unfair. Things came to a head in March 1985 when Luton Town met Millwall at Kenilworth Road in an FA Cup quarter final and visiting supporters stage a prearranged riot. Having met up in London they travelled to Luton en masse and right on cue invaded the pitch, forcing the referee to take the teams off for 25 minutes while fans fought the outnumbered police. Nine days earlier the second leg of a League Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge had also been disrupted by a pitch invasion which brought on mounted police. Ken Bates, the Chelsea chairman, complained about a lack of government action to curb the mayhem and given the limp responses of the Football Association he seemed to have a point. All the FA did in this instance was warning Chelsea about their future conduct. Luton was ordered to fence off their pitch and Millwall were fined £7,500, which was not much even then. Thatcher had an hour-long meeting with her ministers to discuss football violence and expressed her disappointment with the game authorities' apparent inability to face up to the problem. A meeting between government and football representatives at Downing Street failed to produce any new ideas. Thatcher saw football fans much like the working class as feral animals needing to be put in their place and dealt with firmly. There was no sense of trying to understand the tensions that her own government at the time created and field. The only, somewhat extreme, innovation was short-lived. Chelsea erected an 11ft electrified fence around their pitch hoping to deter invaders with a 12-volt charge, but the Greater London Council threatened legal action and the thing was not switched on. All this and worse was to come. On the last day of the season rubbish which for years had been allowed to accumulate under the main stand at Bradford City's ground caught fire and 56 died in the inferno. On the same afternoon Leeds United fans went on the rampage at Birmingham City and a boy was killed when a wall collapsed. Heysel was 18 days away. All they did was put up steel fences to keep spectators off the playing area and four years later the terrible logic of this practice led to Hillsborough when cackhanded policing at an FA Cup semi-final resulted in 96 Liverpool supporters, whose only offence had been to arrive early, being crushed to death behind one of the goals. The Taylor Report, all-seat stadiums, bans on alcohol and the fact that unruly elements have largely been priced out should have minimised the chance of football grounds again becoming death traps. Moreover, the speed with which Millwall and Newcastle have reacted in trying to track down those who caused trouble last weekend is a refreshing contrast to the foot-dragging responses of the past.Violence is not something football fans should have to accept and a firm stance on this by all clubs threatening life time bans on anyone found guilty is a must. We’ve come along way in the game to drive out violent elements I do hope we do not go back to those dark days.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Many people pour cold water on us in the socialist party for looking back and learning from the works and ideas of Leon Trotsky but I think personally he is as relevant as ever. Facing one of the deepest if not the longest economic crisis we’ve possibly ever known many working people will be looking for ideas and a explanation why this is happening and what can we do about it. Workers will naturally be drawn back to the ideas of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. There is so much I’d ask Trotsky if he was still alive today such as does he feel we are posing the right questions and raisin the correct slogans in the class struggle right now. His foresight to what was necessary at each time and at every stage. Trotsky was an outstanding Marxist and a very crucial person during the Russian revolution alongside Lenin was able to steer the revolution towards a successful end. But above all, Leon Trotsky was one of the greatest theoreticians of the workers' movement. If Karl Marx was the man of the millennium, then Leon Trotsky was undoubtedly, with Lenin, Friedrich Engel’s and Rosa Luxemburg, also one of the greatest figures of the millennium, and certainly of the 20th century. His ideas, his method of analysis, and the conclusions drawn from this, are as relevant today as in the past. TAKE TROTSKY'S FAMOUS theory of the permanent revolution, which brilliantly anticipated the class forces involved in the outcome of the Russian revolution. Russia prior to 1917 was a feudal or semi-feudal system which meant virtual slavery for the population. Like India today, the majority of the population were peasants who eked out an existence on narrow parcels of land while the urban working class had no rights and were ruthlessly exploited in rapidly developing industry. Russia had not completed the capitalist democratic revolution as had England, for instance, in the 16th century, and France in the 18th century. The main tasks of this revolution were the elimination of feudal and semi-feudal relations in the land, unification of the country, and the solution of the national question. It also involved the introduction of democracy, the right to vote, the election of a democratic parliament, a free press, and trade union rights for the working class. Last but not least, the completion of this revolution would free the economy from the domination of imperialism, particularly of Anglo-French imperialism which saw Russia as a virtual colony. Marxists do not idolise 'ancient texts' no matter how brilliant they might be. However, if a theory is very 'old' and yet it correctly foresees events and processes, it is the most modern of theories. And Trotsky's ideas are as applicable today for most of Africa, and for huge parts of Asia and Latin America, as they were for Russia more than 80 years ago. The capitalist democratic revolution has not been completed in big parts of the neo-colonial world. The landlords and capitalists are incapable of solving the even greater accumulation of problems which exist today compared with 1917. TROTSKY'S ANALYSIS OF the rise of the bureaucracy and the victory of the Stalinist counter-revolution is one of the treasures of humankind. Without this Marxists would have been groping in the dark to find a way forward. In his Diary In Exile, Trotsky summed up his contribution in the following fashion: "The work in which I am engaged now, despite its extremely insufficient and fragmentary nature, is the most important work of my life - more important than 1917, more important than the period of the civil war or any other. "For the sake of clarity I would put it this way. Had I not been present in 1917 in Petersburg, the October revolution would still have taken place - on the condition that Lenin was present and in command. If neither Lenin nor I had been present in Petersburg, there would have been no October revolution: the leadership of the Bolshevik Party would have prevented it from occurring - of this I have not the slightest doubt! If Lenin had not been in Petersburg, I doubt whether I could have managed to conquer the resistance of the Bolshevik leaders. The struggle with 'Trotskyism' (i.e. with the proletarian revolution) would have commenced in May 1917, and the outcome of the revolution would have been in question. But I repeat, granted the presence of Lenin, the October revolution would have been victorious anyway. The same could by and large be said of the civil war, although in its first period, especially at the time of the fall of Simbirsk and Kazan, Lenin wavered and was beset by doubts. But this was undoubtedly a passing mood which he probably never even admitted to anyone but me. "Thus I cannot speak of the 'indispensability' of my work, even about the period from 1917 to 1921. But now my work is 'indispensable' in the full sense of the word. There is no arrogance in this claim at all. The collapse of the two Internationals has posed a problem which none of the leaders of these Internationals is at all equipped to solve. The vicissitudes of my personal fate have confronted me with this problem and armed me with important experience in dealing with it. There is now no one except me to carry out the mission of arming a new generation with the revolutionary method over the heads of the leaders of the Second and Third International". (Diary in Exile, pp53-54) There is not an atom of personal arrogance let alone 'pessimism' in these lines. Trotsky was the first real dissident, together with the rest of the Left Opposition, to oppose Stalinism. They were the staunch defenders of workers' democracy against the Stalinist counter-revolution. Trotsky points out that the basic contradiction of capitalism is that the working class cannot buy back the full product of their labour, because they only receive a portion of this in the form of wages. However, capitalism overcomes this contradiction by ploughing the surplus back into industry. But this, in turn, leads to an even greater production of goods which the working class at a certain stage is incapable of buying back. The capitalist economists dispute this even, as Trotsky pointed out, in short-lived booms, such as the 1924-29 boom in Germany, when Werner Sombat proclaimed that capitalism had overcome its contradictions (on the eve of the 1929 Wall Street Crash). Trotsky was not without his faults and the socialist party never shy’s away from pointing these out he for example didn’t see the Stalinist soviet union living on past the 2nd war which in fact actually strengthened the Stalinist system. Of course, Trotsky wrote and worked in a different historical era to ourselves. Some of the issues he was compelled to deal with are no longer as burning for the working class. You will find in his writings this or that antiquated expression or an idea which does not appear immediately relevant to our world today. However, an amazing amount of what Trotsky wrote is extremely pertinent, a thousand times more relevant to serious workers looking for an explanation of economic, political and even historical phenomena, than anything else on offer today. Trotsky never had any fetish about organisational forms. He also opposed both ultra-leftism and opportunism. His ideas were never for the meeting room alone but were preparation to intervene wherever the working class is and win them to socialist and Marxist ideas. Following Trotsky's advice, members and supporters of Militant (now the Socialist Party) patiently worked within the Labour Party in Britain. The Labour Party, as with its cousins internationally, had a dual character. Sectarians of all stripes disputed this. They took the phrase of Lenin that the Labour Party was a 'bourgeois workers' party' and turned their backs on the Labour Party and the support it then enjoyed at bottom from the working class. There was not an atom of dialectical analysis in their approach. Right from the outset, the Labour Party had 'bourgeois' leaders in the sense that even those who claimed to be 'socialist' ultimately were not prepared to go beyond the framework of capitalism. Nevertheless, at its base the Labour Party was perceived by workers as 'their' party and its creation was a step forward from a class point of view of the proletariat in Britain. Moreover, it possessed democratic features which allowed Marxists to intervene, in the case of Militant, with great success. We were able to connect the ideas of Trotsky to youth and workers. Militant was the most successful Trotskyist organisation since the Left Opposition in the whole of Western Europe. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of workers were introduced to the basic ideas of Trotsky through the work of our organisation (now the Socialist Party). In Liverpool between 1983-87 we created a mass movement which shook the ruling class. We initiated and led the mighty anti-poll tax battle, with 34 of our comrades jailed, which ended in the defeat of the tax and the consignment of Thatcher to the rubbish heap of history. No other Trotskyist party in the advanced industrial world could claim such a record. While others are, in reality, abandoning Trotsky as no longer relevant to 'the modern world', we perceive that his ideas and methods are as vital, indeed more vital, to the struggles that are opening up. The new changed period will allow Marxism to reconnect to the working class, in the first instance, to its more developed layer, which will provide the backbone for the creation of new mass forces. The working class in Britain, for the first time in 100 years, in a mass sense has been politically beheaded by New Labour's move to a position analogous to that of the Democratic Party in the USA. This is why the Socialist Party in Britain calls for the creation of a new mass workers' party, while at the same time seeking to build its own forces within the working-class movement. We hail Trotsky as a great theoretician and leader of the working class but we do not merely acclaim past leaders. It is necessary for us, particularly the new generation of workers, to study the writings of Leon Trotsky alongside of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg but, above all, to seek to acquire his method which will allow us to create a mass Marxist force that will eradicate from the planet the scourge of capitalism and all that goes with it. Extracts taken from Peter Taaffe’s excellent the relevance of Trotsky today in socialism today http://www.socialismtoday.org/49/trotskys_ideas.html
We were told this week that official unemployment jumped-up this week to over 2.5 million in Britain but this is a false figure in many ways. You are classed as employed if you do two or three hours a week that is so called employment. If you are self employed and sell a few things a week that is seen as employed. Also if you don’t sign on for Jobs seakers allowance JSA you are not picked up by the system so effectively not classed as unemployed even though clearly you are the government simply are not aware of you. All this is designed to mask the true figures of unemployment in this country. For a long time the official unemployment figures have defied gravity with the real economic situation seeming to not fit with the labour market figures. I’ve blogged before how much business’s m may be hoarding labour as the cost of re hiring and retraining would be extensive. As the crisis deepens and no sign of a recovery of any real magnitude is forthcoming these workers will be let go. unemployment could be as high as 6.3 million in the UK if a different counting measure was used, highlighting the true scale of joblessness, according to a new report from the TUC. The TUC said the higher figure - more than twice the official total - was revealed using an American measure, which includes people in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work and recent redundancies. The jobless total increased to 2.5 million last week and is expected to rise again in the coming months as the cuts deepen. But the TUC study suggested the actual number of unemployed people in the UK could be 6.3 million, which would be higher than any point since the early 1990s. Under-employment, which counts those doing temporary or part-time jobs because they cannot find permanent, full-time work, has risen to a record 1.9 million, according to the research. The TUC said temporary jobs were better than unemployment, but added that they tended to be low paid, insecure and offered little or no career prospects. Officials called on the Government to acknowledge the scale of the jobs "crisis" rather than repeat the "ill-informed" claim that there were plenty of jobs available. This jobs crisis is not confined to those out of work. Nearly two million people are being forced to take low-paid, insecure, short hours jobs because of the lack of proper full-time employment. This means people are taking home much less pay, which is putting a real strain on family budgets. "When ministers say there are plenty of jobs out there, they are ignoring the sheer numbers of people looking for work, as well as the suitability and location of the jobs available. "Rather than seek to blame unemployed people for being out of work, the Government should start helping them by putting proper resources into employment schemes. The report followed a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which showed that job prospects are set to worsen in the coming months as firms make workers redundant. A survey of 1,000 employers also revealed a further widening of a North-South divide in the jobs market. There are 600,000 more people working part-time who say they want to work full-time, compared to three years ago, said the organisation. Graeme Cooke, IPPR Associate Director, said: "Every month that goes by, the urgent need for the new Youth Contract continues to grow. It is now almost a year since the Future Jobs Fund stopped giving young people a job guarantee after a year of unemployment. "The next priority should be areas of the country experiencing the combination of both high unemployment and a low number of vacancies, while the prospects of those over 50 and unemployed for more than a year are also of serious concern. "The longer someone is unemployed, the less likely they are to ever return to work. Being out of work for more than a year can have a scarring effect, making it harder to get a job as well as having a negative impact on one's health and well-being. This means that even when employment starts to pick up again, they will find it hard to compete with other jobseekers and could find themselves permanently shut out of the jobs market.
Youth Fight for Jobs have a new campaign launched a month or so ago now called sick of your boss. It is aimed at all those young people who are not in a trade union in particular to organise the youth. If you’re in a low paid dead end job or in and out of work and at your boss’s mercy all the time this campaign is for you. Youth Fight for Jobs is launching the Sick of your Boss initiative. There are many many young people who make-up part of the rapidly growing so called ‘precariat’. ‘Hannah Parker’ (pseudonym), 21, a young pub worker and supporter of Sick of your Boss, said: “I’m attending the Sick of your Boss London launch events, because I’ve had enough of low pay, insecurity and dead-end jobs. I’m a graduate in Social Policy and want the chance to use my skills help people, but since finishing university I’ve been pulling pints with no prospect of moving on. Like thousands of young workers I face appalling conditions on a day to day basis. Last week I was called a bitch by a customer, but my manager told me I still had to serve him. I don’t get my rota for the week’s work until Sunday evening. I have to work until 2ARE and then start again at 9AM the same morning! I now know that this is actually illegal. My erratic hours mean I can go 24 hours without eating. My company makes millions and my managers always talk about their bonuses, but they won’t pay me or my colleagues a penny more than the minimum wage.” Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs spokesperson said: ‘George Osborne’s successive budgets of cuts and misery threaten to leave behind a ‘lost generation’. On top of the 1 million unemployed youth at least another million are underemployed in insecure, low paid, part-time and temporary work. Osborne’s budget cut corporation tax for companies engaged in super-exploitation of young workers. But we will still face soaring living costs, benefits slashed and public services cut to the bone. Who will be hit hardest by this budget? Young people, workers, the poor and the vulnerable. It’s time to fight back.’ ‘Hannah Parker’ and Ian Pattison are available for interview. Youth Fight for Jobs was launched on 2009 in response to rising levels of youth unemployment. We have recently completed the 330 mile Jarrow March for Jobs. Youth Fight for Jobs hit the headlines in 2012 for campaigning against ‘workfare’. We are supported by the Unite, PCS, RMT, CWU, UCU, FBU, BECTU and TSSA trade unions. For more info you can contact Youth Fight for Jobs on 020 8558 7947 or 07749379010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us on twitter @youthfight4jobs
www.socialistworld.net, 20/04/2013 website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI ‘No’ vote puts Labour Party on the ropes Statement by Paul Murphy, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) MEP • Workers in Ireland not passive supporters of austerity • Labour will seal electoral meltdown if they attempt to push through pay cuts Speaking following the ‘No’ vote on the Croke Park II deal (which included attacks on public sector wages and conditions demanded by the Troika) Paul Murphy MEP commented: “I warmly welcome the decisive No votes from SIPTU (Irelands biggest union), the INMO (nurses and midwives) and the INTO (teachers) announced this afternoon, which alongside the No votes from several other unions have killed off Croke Park II and has knocked the government and the troika onto the ropes. I congratulate those union activists and leaders who campaigned against this disastrous deal. “Internationally the government and the troika like to give the impression that workers in Ireland are passive supporters of austerity policies. This vote and the large protest in Dublin against the hated property tax last Saturday have dramatically exposed this lie “This vote is a key turning point, public sector workers have had enough of austerity, which has meant pay cuts and the destruction of the services they deliver. It shows that they are not prepared to take any more and are prepared to stand up to the bullying from the government, the troika, and the media together with strong pressure from the conservative trade union leaders. “Any attempt to legislate for pay cuts must be met by effective industrial action to defeat this weakened government. The Labour Party claims to be the party for working class people and the trade union movement. This lie has been well and truly exposed with their viscous austerity policies. Should Labour attempt to force through pay cuts for public sector workers, it should be made absolutely clear to them that it will seal their fate and guarantee electoral meltdown in local and European elections in 2014. “This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Lockout. Then, workers rose up against attacks on their living standards and discarded the old conservative trade union leadership in the process. If the union leaders fail to mobilise now against austerity policies they should face a similar fate as their pre-1913 counterparts.”
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Many workers may not have heard of TUSC – The Trade union and Socialist Coalition and that is understandable we are small and have no mainstream profile with any big business backing. The media has also made a concerted effort to sideline any of our ideas or tell people about us at all. During the last local elections there was a complete black out against us which we have trouble in countering given we have no way of accessing mass media apart from the internet and our own communications within the working class. But this may a vote for TUSC in the county council local elections will represent clear vote against the cuts. We don’t just talk about fighting the cuts we are ordinary trade unionists fighting day to day in our workplaces and our communities to fight cuts and support local campaigns. We do not expect to receive a huge vote this may our vote is constantly squeezed by those wanting to punish the Tories voting for the nearest party who can hurt the Tories and that is so far a vote for the labour party despite labours poor record in fighting cuts locally. TUSC is an electoral vehicle and is not as yet a new workers party we are quite clear about that but it is a vehicle for those opposed to the cuts to appear on the ballot paper and provide an alternative which we would otherwise be denied. I am standing for this first time and I’m proud to be standing for TUSC. I don’t expect to get a big vote at all but I’m happy that I can be able to be that alternative in Hertfordshire. I like the federal structure of TUSC allowing each part of the coalition to get on and campaign on their own terms but sticking to the main policies that all TUSC candidates must agree to before standing. We are often told a vote for TUSC and any minor force is a wasted vote I personally don’t accept that. It is a continues thought that someone feels your worth a vote its showing that your vote hasn’t been brought by a pro cuts party and that people have registered what you are staying and do want an alternative. People may not always agree with us and feel we’re a bit too broad or even reformist but it’s a start a clear break with the main 3 capitalist parties of cuts and privatisation. TUSC may end up not being the new mass workers party we are flexible maybe a union like unite may break away from the labour party in which case we’d back that as a positive move away from the labour party and an effort to get something new going. We will have to see how things progress and what way the class struggle develop. The trade unions hold the key to any new working class political formation as that is where the organised working class struggle on a day to day basis. In many ways the trade unions have forgotten how to struggle to fight for their members we do need a rejuvenated trade union movement but this will come when workers feel they have no choice but to struggle and begin to reclaim their unions back for themselves again. TUSC are right to stand this may and it’s important that we do to counter the growing threat from the right including the likes of UKIP. We do need to be aware of the UKIP threat and look to cut across them by giving a clear class alternative along socialist lines. We will be the only force this may with 120 odd candidates standing against all cuts. No other formation can lay claim to this. Vote TUSC for no cuts for a workers representative on a workers wage.
Friday, 19 April 2013
I have come across a horrific article in the New York Times today about the levels of hunger and suffering in Greece a nation never too far from the news at the moment with its heavy handed austerity programme being implemented hard on ordinary people. In the article it details how levels of so called food insecurity are rising to levels commonly seen in many African nations. This for me is the brutal cold reality of capitalism in internal decline. Its hard to comprehend how this is like in Britain where levels of food scarcity is very low and although food banks are opening up every week in many areas Greece is on an entirely deeper scale than we face currently although we are heading in that direction. The Greek economy is in free fall, having shrunk by 20 percent in the past five years. The unemployment rate is more than 27 percent, the highest in Europe, and 6 of 10 job seekers say they have not worked in more than a year. Those dry statistics are reshaping the lives of Greek families with children, more of whom are arriving at schools hungry or underfed, even malnourished, according to private groups and the government itself. Last year, an estimated 10 percent of Greek elementary and middle school students suffered from what public health professionals call “food insecurity,” meaning they faced hunger or the risk of it, said Dr. Athena Linos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School who also heads a food assistance program at Prolepsis, a nongovernmental public health group that has studied the situation. “When it comes to food insecurity, Greece has now fallen to the level of some African countries,” she said. Unlike those in the United States, Greek schools do not offer subsidized cafeteria lunches. Students bring their own food or buy items from a canteen. The cost has become insurmountable for some families with little or no income. Their troubles have been compounded by new austerity measures demanded by Greece’s creditors, including higher electricity taxes and cuts in subsidies for large families. As a result, parents without work are seeing their savings and benefits rapidly disappear. “All around me I hear kids saying: ‘My parents don’t have any money. We don’t know what we are going to do,’ ” said Evangelia Karakaxa, a vivacious 15-year-old at the No. 9 junior high school in Acharnes. Acharnes, a working-class town among the mountains of Attica, was bustling with activity from imports until the economic crisis wiped out thousands of factory jobs. Now, several of Evangelia’s classmates are frequently hungry, she said, and one boy recently fainted. Some children were starting to steal for food, she added. While she does not excuse it, she understands their plight. “Those who are well fed will never understand those who are not,” she said. “Our dreams are crushed,” added Evangelia, whose parents are unemployed but who is not in the same dire situation as her peers. She paused, and then continued in a low voice. “They say that when you drown, your life flashes before your eyes. My sense is that in Greece, we are drowning on dry land.” Alexandra Perry, who works at the school, said that at least 60 of the 280 students suffered from malnutrition. Children who once boasted of sweets and meat now talk of eating boiled macaroni, lentils, rice or potatoes. “The cheapest stuff,” Ms. Perry said. This year the number of malnutrition cases jumped. “A year ago, it wasn’t like this,” Ms. Perry, said, fighting back tears. “What’s frightening is the speed at which it is happening.” The government, which initially dismissed the reports as exaggerations, recently acknowledged that it needed to tackle the issue of malnutrition in schools. But with priorities placed on repaying bailout funds, there is little money in Greek coffers to cope. Mr. Nikas, the principal, said he knew that the Greek government was laboring to fix the economy. Now that talk of Greece’s exiting the euro zone has disappeared, things look better to the outside world. “But tell that to the family of Pantelis,” he said. “They don’t feel the improvement in their lives.” Quite clearly the deepening crisis in global capitalism and the Euro crisis in particular know no boundaries and will stop at nothing to make workers and ordinary people pay for a crisis not of their making. Stories like these need to be in the mainstream news all the time but wont be as the media is controlled and owned by big business and it is not in its interests to highlight the suffering of its own ideas and actions. What is clear though that Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal the so called PIGS face very similar situations and need to come together in collective solidarity and put an end to this brutal rotten system of capitalism and form a new society based on the needs of the mass’s. There can be no way out of this crisis on the basis of capitalism only a socialist transformation of society can start to develop the means and the ways of ending mass exploitation and suffering. A society which meets peoples needs not focus’s on only what profit can be made out of something. With extracts from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/world/europe/more-children-in-greece-start-to-go-hungry.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&smid=tw-share&
Thursday, 18 April 2013
Hertfordshire police force are considering out sourcing again after the G4S contract bid was dropped out sourcing has crept back on their agenda. All efforts must be made to prevent these first steps towards privatisation. An existing Herts Police arrangement with Beds and Cambs’ forces is to be dropped while police and crime commissioner David Lloyd searches for savings. In a statement leaked by Herts Police Unision commissioner Lloyd states: “Work [is] underway to seek further collaboration opportunities beyond those already underway with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire (Police) will cease.” He also is quoted as saying: “Clearly there are some things that only warranted officers can and should do. But I want to ensure that all other policing services are considered for outsourcing over the next two years”. It also reveals the police will now “explore the benefits of outsourcing policing functions which do not require warranted powers”. Before the statement was sent out commissioner Lloyd, chief constable Andy Bliss, senior staff and representatives of the Police Federation and Unison met. During yesterday’s (Wednesday) meeting chief constable Bliss is alleged to have said: “If there is a better deal to be had in house, we will very seriously look at that. “However the expectation is very clear from PCC Lloyd that we will be going out looking at market opportunities.” Herts Police Unison want commissioner Lloyd to look “in house” for savings and think costs could be cut internally. A union spokesman said: “All Hertfordshire Police Staff and Officers have worked tirelessly over the last three years to implement savings not only through the collaboration of services with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire but internally within Hertfordshire Constabulary alone. “We believe there are still more opportunities to make savings internally and we strongly urge PCC Lloyd to give the staff and officers of Hertfordshire Constabulary the chance to do this first before outsourcing services. “In public service we feel morally obliged to do what is right and necessary to help those affected by crime, in private enterprise the only imperative is to service contractual obligations and thereby maximise profit.” The announcement follows a failed outsourcing bid with private All sounds quite concerning what the unison guy says words like collaboration and finding cuts in house rather than out saucing show a sign of a union who is more bout finding compromises than actually standing up for its members. Just shows the urgent need to transform that union to a fighting left union. But we will have to watch this one closely as privatisation in our police seems to be back on the table and being seriously considered.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
In similar ways the bedroom tax has been the straw that broke the camels back and a little like the infamous poll tax which saw Margret Thatcher finally defeated this bedroom tax could become David Cameron and the tories very own poll tax. We need to make this tax unworkable with mass resistance and mass civil disobedience needed to defeat this vicious tax. The socialist party says : • No evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of austerity cuts. Organise local campaigns to oppose the tax and defend our homes • Stand candidates against councillors who try to evict us. Build a new mass workers' party that draws together workers, young people and activists from workplaces and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-cuts parties • Cap rents and build homes. Invest in a major programme of council house building and refurbishment to provide affordable homes for all and decent jobs • End low pay! If workers are paid a genuinely living wage they would not need to claim housing benefit • Fight all the cuts. Trade unions must build for a 24-hour general strike as the next major step in the campaign against austerity • For a socialist alternative to cuts and capitalism with a democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people - not the 1% Many of those actively taking part in anti bedroom tax campaigns are mostly those not affected by this tax but want to get involved and lend solidarity all the same. More the better i say. It says everything about the major movement and politicisation that could develop that most of those participating are not affected by the bedroom tax but are acting in solidarity. The rage against the rich and their political representatives is palpable - the sheer injustice of bankers' bailouts and their bonuses, MPs' expenses, pay-day loan sharks, foodbanks, food prices, unemployment. There is also an understanding that those in power will not cease their attacks on the working class and gains of the past such as social housing unless they are forced to. 'Spare room' myth-busting! Myth #1: people have 'spare' bedrooms So-called 'spare' rooms aren't spare at all. The government's criteria mean children and young people are forced to share bedrooms with siblings - up to 16 if they're the same sex. They don't take into account people's disabilities which might mean they occasionally need someone to stay over to help them or to sleep separately from their partner. And if parents are separated, only one is entitled to have a room for their child. Myth #2: the bedroom tax is going to 'encourage people into work' It's hard to encourage people into jobs that don't exist. In some areas there are up to 20 jobseekers for every vacancy. And the government continues to cut more jobs from the public sector. Figures have shown all the schemes they've tried, including their heralded Work Programme, have failed to increase the numbers getting jobs. Besides, many of those affected by the bedroom tax are already in work - 90% of new housing benefit claimants from 2010-2012 have a job but are so poorly paid they are still entitled to support with housing costs - a bailout for stingy, low-paying bosses. Myth #3: the bedroom tax will result in a reduced housing benefit bill The housing benefit bill is so big because of high rents - mainly in the private sector but now social landlords can charge 80% of the market rate too. Private sector rents have increased by 86% in 40 years. The best way to reduce it is to introduce a cap on rents. People have been forced to move to urban areas to look for work, increasing the need for affordable housing. But the amount of social housing being built has fallen at the same time as the existing stock has been sold off. What the government really wants to do is attack the welfare state in every way possible and to force working and middle class people to pay for the bankers' crisis. Myth #4: it's only fair to create parity with the private sector The reduction in housing benefit for a spare room in the private sector hasn't always existed either. And the real problem is that there isn't enough decent housing, and virtually none that is really affordable. People being hit by the bedroom tax have nowhere to move to because of the massive shortage of social housing - mainly as a result of decades of successive governments continuing the sell-off of council housing. Myth #5: the £500 benefit cap is only bringing benefits in line with average wages This figure doesn't include benefits that people in work have to claim, including child benefit and working tax credits. That so many people earn less than £500 is a disgrace, best tackled by increasing the minimum wage, not bringing benefits even further into poverty levels. Those who are fighting this savage attack should stand in elections and join other anti-cuts campaigners in building a new mass party, based on ordinary working class people, to put an alternative to austerity on the agenda.